Knee Pain – it’s one of those issues that you’ve either struggled with or not. While back pain and neck pain often vary in degrees, knee pain tends to be either very painful or not at all. If you’ve never experienced knee pain (good for you!) you’re not necessarily out of the woods – this week, we look at some of the risk factors for knee pain.
What a pain in the Knee!
If you’re a runner or enjoy a sport that requires a lot of running, especially with dynamic changes in pace and direction like football or rugby, you’ve probably suffered knee pain at some point. If you work in a physical job such as construction you probably also know a lot of people with knee issues. Chronic knee pain is thought to affect up to 25% of adults and can significantly limit both your mobility and quality of life – knee pain can be especially troublesome as even in mild cases it can affect your ability to get about. What’s more, while something like shoulder or elbow pain can be very annoying, it rarely prevents you from using your other arm as normal – knee pain however forces you to either wait for the issue to go away or continue activity while you compensate more with the uninjured knee, putting it at a greater risk of injury.
Knees are also easily injured or stressed – the knee is a hinge joint that is primarily designed to move back and forth (flexion and extension) – this allows for walking, running as well as bending. The knee, however, also allows for some twisting or rotation in its movement – but since this isn’t its primary, function the knee isn’t especially well designed to handle large or repetitive rotational forces, which is where the majority of knee issues begin.
Don’t get us wrong, the knee is an incredibly strong joint which is subjected to force every step you take – activities such as running, or heaving lifting place great stress and strain on your knees and so long as you use a proper range of motion they’ll handle it- but, allow your range of motion, gate or balance to deteriorate too much and the knee can be subjected to forces it’s not best designed to handle.
How can we protect our knees?
The vulnerability of the knee to rotational injuries means that for those who engage in sports which require fast and explosive movement, a knee injury may not be entirely avoidable. Treatments such as sports therapy are ideally placed to assist in recovery when you do have an injured knee – and this is something most sportspeople are well aware of. The key message for those who do fall into this category is never try to train or play on an injured knee, seek treatment right away.
While some risk of knee injury might be par for the course in the sports world, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t things we can all do to avoid placing additional stress on the knee during everyday life. If you aren’t involved in activities that can easily result in injury, it should be possible to get through life without serious knee pain.
So, how can we protect our knees – here’s some practical tips:
- Watch your weight – The fact is that for every pound you are overweight, your knee must absorb an extra 4 pounds of pressure when you walk, run, or climb stairs. If you’re carrying some extra fat, losing some can go a long way to helping to protect your knees. Please note, if you’re at the other end of the scale and regularly hitting the gym you should ensure you don’t skip leg day! Strengthening the muscles which support the knee will help to protect it, even as you add more weight in muscle.
- Warm-up before exercising. Critically, stretching your quadriceps and hamstrings before and after you exercise is a smart way to reduce the chance of a flare-up of knee pain – often, the knee ends up absorbing force not properly controlled by the supporting muscles, so give them the best chance of working properly before you start. Similarly, if you’ve injured the quadriceps and hamstrings, be very wary of possible stress to the knee.
- Choose proper footwear. A huge issue for runners – every step you take transfers force from the bottom of your foot to your knee. Therefore, your shoes should provide the support you need to keep your knees healthy – this goes for every day, but when exercising it’s critical to wear good supportive footwear which fits properly!
- Maintain a full range of motion. Ensuring your low back and hips are moving freely is essential to overall knee health. Many of us build up incredible amounts of tension in our hips and lower back while sitting at a desk all day, and this, like a muscle injury, can cause forces to be poorly distributed throughout the rest of the body. A regular chiropractic adjustment, as well as 5 – 10 minutes of daily stretching, can make a huge difference here.
Need help with knee pain?
Knee pain can be a real downer, but at Complete Chiropractic we can help – since we’ve now brought sports therapy and massage back to the clinic, we have a range of options to offer alongside chiropractic care, meaning we’re once again a one-stop shop for knee pain.
By the way – did some of the symptoms from this article sound similar, but perhaps you’re not an active sportsperson? It’s not uncommon for people with back issues to find themselves struggling with knee pain after limping around for a few weeks, so if that back pain is turning into knee pain – it’s time to book an appointment!
 Chronic Knee Pain. Healthline. 2021.